Surgeons often claim that a facelift will take a certain number of years off your appearance. A number I often hear at meetings is ten years. I have even seen such a number used in advertisements for skin cosmetics and laser treatments. However, these estimates are purely wishful-thinking. Photographs showing such an apparent difference in age invariably show best case results, with lighting, makeup, jewelry and facial expression all more favorable in the after picture.
How much younger will I look? Perhaps surprisingly, we now have some answers:
|Procedure||Apparent Age Reduction||Range|
|Facelift Only||4.6||1.0 - 13.6|
|Facelift and blepharoplasties||4.8||2.2 - 9.5|
|Facelift, blepharoplasties and forehead lift||7.0||1.1 - 14.2|
|All facelift procedures||6.0||0.8 - 14.2|
|* 71 Patients|
In our survey, photographs of patients taken before surgery and at least 6 months after surgery, without makeup and under identical photographic conditions, were shown to members of the public who attended a Women's Exposition. The "age guessers" were asked to judge the age of the person in the photograph, not knowing anything about the individual. Two different books of photographs were used, each alternating before and after photographs so that the age guessers did not view both before and after photographs of the same patient. The results of this study showed that the average reduction in apparent age after a facelift alone was 4.6 years. Patients treated with blepharoplasties were compared to patients without blepharoplasties. Doing eyelid surgery, on average, provided another 2 years of reduction in apparent age. The same was found to be true for forehead lifts. Laser resurfacing, on average, provided 2.5 years of age reduction. An interesting finding was that smokers' apparent age reduction averaged 8.1 years, significantly more than nonsmokers (5.6 years), perhaps because they looked older to start with.
There was no significant difference when patients were compared by gender, decade of life (forties, fifties, sixties…) or body mass index. None of the 71 patients was judged to look older after surgery and some patients were judged to look 14 years younger. This data represents the only information available regarding objective assessment of apparent age after cosmetic surgery. It is the first solid evidence that cosmetic surgery is effective.
Interestingly, 97% of patients themselves thought they looked younger and patients themselves thought they looked an average of 12 years younger (range 0 – 27.5 years)!